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Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/5/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Shadwell Stable’s Jazil, runner-up in Aqueduct’s Grade I Wood Memorial at last asking, runs in the Kentucky Derby Saturday. Corinthian was first under the wire in Gulfstream’s Grade II Fountain of Youth before being subsequently disqualified, and would have been a legitimate candidate in the Run for the Roses had he not been sidelined by injury. Sunriver, third in Gulfstream’s Grade I Florida Derby, was 21st on the earnings list when they drew the entries Wednesday for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, missing the final cut by one.

What do those three horses have in common? Dixiana Stables Inc.’s High Blues, who runs Saturday at Arlington Park, ran competitively with all of them this winter at Gulfstream and may still prove to be a top 3-year-old. Interestingly, High Blues will be making his grass course debut Saturday, and has a creditable turf breeding top and bottom as a son of 2000 Grade I Blue Grass winner High Yield out of a Cure the Blues mare.

Should he run well in Saturday’s seventh race, High Blues, who was one of the first horses on the Arlington grounds this season, will become one of the prime candidates for Arlington’s Mid America Triple. This year that grass series for sophomores begins with the Grade III Arlington Classic, presented by Woodford Reserve July 1; continues with the Grade II American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel’s July 22 as part of Million Preview Day; and concludes with the Grade I Secretariat Stakes Aug. 12 as part of the International Festival of Racing on Arlington Million Day.

“This exercise this morning is just to settle him down a little bit,” said Paulus Friday in the Arlington grandstand, as he watched High Blues gallop on the main track. “He did his serious work the other day (four furlongs in :49 breezing May 1), but this cool weather here has picked all my horses’ heads up, including his.

“I’ve always wanted to try this horse on turf, and there’s no better place to do that than Arlington Park,” Paulus said. “This is the best turf course in the country. If he runs well (Saturday), this is going to be a fun summer for us here at Arlington.”

In his most recent trip to the post in the Florida Derby, High Blues was forced to steady at the start and then lost all chance when bumped on the first turn. He finished sixth.

In his start before that March 1, he was off slowly, lost position to Sunriver entering the lane and finished second to that rival by a half-length. Before that High Blues was third behind Corinthian and Jazil Feb. 2, again compromised after being steadied on the first turn.

“The way I look at it, we were competitive with some of the best 3-year-olds in the country this winter,” said Paulus, “and with a little better luck, we could have done better. Right now our game plan is just to regroup and get a fresh start.”


Frank Calabrese’s Lewis Michael, fourth in Hawthorne’s Grade II Illinois Derby in his last start April 8 but excluded from Saturday’s Kentucky Derby when 23rd on the earnings list, breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 at Arlington Park Friday morning.

What’s next for the promising sophomore owned by Arlington’s leading owner in number of wins for the last six years?

“Right now, it looks like the Peter Pan,” said conditioner Wayne Catalano, speaking of Belmont’s Grade II event May 20. Catalano is Arlington’s defending trainer champion and local title holder three of the last four seasons. “We just missed getting into the Derby and were looking forward to running there. We thought we had a legitimate shot.”

Catalano, who also can boast being leading trainer four of the last six years (and missing a tie for the title by a single winner in a fifth year) was asked about his chances for a successful defense of his record-setting 2005 meeting local session.

“I don’t know,” said Catalano. “It’s going to be a long season and a lot of things can happen. Right now we’re not as set up as we’d like to be, but I’m sure everything will pan out. We claim a lot of horses and lose a lot through claims but we’ll be all right.”

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